Friday, May 24, 2019

Do NOT Give Information to "Survey" Sites


When you see advertisements for "paid survey sites" claiming you can make a given amount of money (often $300) for signing up, stay away. 
The first thing they ask for is your email address, and that's where the trouble begins.
You then receive a huge list of options to answer "yes" or "no" to. These can vary from "do you want to sign up with Survey Company X?" to "Do you have lower back pain" or "do you want to pre-arrange a funeral for your elderly parakeet?"
Some of the survey companies they suggest signing up with are legitimate. Here's the thing: anyone can create an account with a survey company and get a referral link. 
Whichever of the offers you answer "yes" to now has your email address, and this can lead to trouble down the road.
I've avoided these sketchy survey aggregators for many years, but I started taking paid surveys back in the early 2000s when I was also naive enough to pay for "top seekrit" survey lists. 
For the past few days, I have been receiving a crap-ton of phishing emails from addresses ending in rf-cheats.ru
Some of these emails initially appeared to have come from me.
I have changed my password four times in the past two days.
The things you do in the past can come back to haunt you years later.
Do NOT enter these survey aggregator sites.
You will not come away with $300.
You will come away with well more than $300 worth of aggravation.
If I achieve nothing else in this life, should I manage to steer people away from "survey" scams, I will feel like I've done something right.

~Cie~

Here are five tried and true legitimate GPT/Survey sites:

Please enter referral code R7RPQG and we'll both get points. Irazoo is my current favorite GPT site.







Thursday, May 23, 2019

It's FOAD Thursday, and Spammers can FOAD Every Day


Click the image to enlarge.
Dear Delivered Ones, today is FOAD Thursday, and it is my most fervent wish that all spammers would FOAD and so would the multi-billion dollar diet industry, which is directly responsible for sparking millions of eating disorders and destroying countless lives. Since I haven't yet found a spell to make that happen, I can at least try and prevent people from losing their money to spammers.
You see the email address that I've circled in red? That is your number one clue that this email is nothing but Spam that has escaped the can and is going on a rampage.
Don't bother unsubscribing from these emails. It doesn't work. Instead, block the email and report it as Spam.
In Gmail, that looks like this:
You go to the three dots in the right-hand corner of your inbox and select the "block" option. Sometimes when you say yes to blocking a sender, it also asks if you want to move the conversation to Spam, which you should do. 
I get irritated with Gmail when a glut of these spam emails get through, but I still like them better than a lot of the other options, so I stay with them.
I also changed my Google password, because the email appeared to have come from me. I have gotten multiple spam emails today alone from accounts with the "rf-cheats.ru" extension. The inevitable "keto diet" bullshit, but also offers for "CBD oil" and encouragement to "refinance your mortgage."
I don't have a mortgage, and the "CBD oil" they're selling is probably made from cooking oil and oregano if you're lucky, or some sort of noxious weed they picked from the side of the road if you aren't.
BLOCK ALL SUCH EMAILS AND REPORT THEM AS SPAM.
Change your password immediately if any of them initially appear to have been sent from your email address. Your account has been compromised.
Please take care to protect yourself from these bastards.

~Cie~


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Help Fight MS Deliciously

Image copyright Hoaluu on Pixabay

Hey, Delivered Ones! This isn't something I'm getting paid to tell you, but it's something that's nice to know about.
Now you can have an easy dinner and donate to the cause of fighting MS all at the same time!
From now through June 30 when you order from Papa Murphy's online, enter the code FIGHTMS, and Papa Murphy's will donate 25% of your order's total value to Meat Fight, a charity committed to raising money for MS research.
I like to order on $10 Tuesdays and $5 Fridays. For those not in the know, every Tuesday at Papa Murphy's you can get any large pizza--and I mean ANY large pizza--for $10. Go to town and order a large special stuffed crust--it's still $10!
I usually pick up 3 large pepperoni pizzas on $5 Fridays, when their large thin crust pepperoni pizzas are, you know, $5 apiece. This gives my son and me three days worth of lunches at $2.50 per person. You can't go wrong with those prices!
I now feel even better about ordering pizza knowing that I'm donating to the worthy cause of funding research for MS and making life a little better for people living with MS. You can too! Go on, order up!

~Cie~

Sunday, May 19, 2019

New Happenings from Around the Netherworld

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Hello Delivered Ones, Horror Harridans, and other followers of things Netherworldly! We have a few new things going on in our twisted little Universe, so stop your grinnin' and drop your linen, it's time for announcements!

My new pal Ghost Town Grover is getting used to my inevitable presence and he and his spooky friends are even springing new ideas on me for stuff we can sell. This newfangled website business is kinda weird for good ole Grover, but he don't mind if it gets the word out about his General Store.

We have a couple of new blog hops in the Netherworld family. First is the Silent Sunday Blog Hop over at Dark Hearts Love Too, the Netherworld's poetry cafe.  Pretty much the only rule is you have to share a photo that was taken by you. Swing on by and share a link if that sort of thing is your bag, Baby!

Next, we have the Come As You Are Party happening at the Crazy Creatives Cheerleading Camp. This party was created in response to the fact that a lot of blog hops really aren't very welcoming of people who aren't normal and "pretty" in a very narrow way. This is the blog hop for the Rest of Us: the unwanted, the unloved, the downtrodden, the fallen behind, the pushed aside, the Outsiders. You can share pretty much whatever you want with a couple of exceptions. If you've ever felt like you just don't belong, this is the place for you.

We hope a few of you will come on by and check out our new to-do's!

~Cie~

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up 18 May 2019

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Ever have one of those weeks?
On the positive side, the Good Stuff From Grover website is off to a...well, to a start. I've designed postcards for it. But...
Well, Grover tells it better than I do. You can read what he has to say.
To make a long story short, I ended up contacting Vistaprint. I've had them design things for me in the past. The quality of their work is solid. 
MS Word's flyer template (which I was going to use for postcards) irritated me. When I designed the business cards, each card changed to follow suit with the others. Not so with the flyers, and I was getting really irritated. 
I have a friend acting as a guinea pig for me to see if it is practical to ship the Peanut Butter Avalanche cookies.
I have gotten rid of the Forester. As I told my son, if something becomes an albatross, get rid of it. The Forester has been an albatross for a long time, pretty much since we bought it, in fact. A lot of money was sunk into that car. When buying a used car in the future, I am going to take it to the mechanic to have them assess it. I don't want to be driving around in another Albatross Express.


This week's food comparison:
Oscar Meyer Natural Selects hot dogs are good.
Oscar Meyer Smokies are nasty. Sadly, I bought 5 packages of these at the Kroger Buy 5 Save $5 sale. I thought I was scoring a deal getting them at 99 cents per package. No such luck. They aren't bad enough to take back to the store, because I know they'll just be tossed if I do that, but they won't make another appearance in my house.
We have a new microwave, which we got from Home Depot. The microwave ended up costing $10, thanks to the register clerk aggressively signing my son up for a credit card. This is a double-edged sword.
My son is unemployed. When he told the clerk this, she said "I'll just put in the minimum amount," which, it turns out, was $35,000. She sent this amount before he had a chance to say anything about it, and he was approved for a credit card with a $500 limit, which gave us the microwave at $50 off.
Myself, I'd have let it ride and just put the credit card aside and never used it. My son was so worried about credit card fraud that we ended up going back to the store where the customer service clerk called the credit card company. They reassured my son that as long as he made payments if he used the card, everything would be fine.
He didn't expect that he would qualify for the card. The only reason he let the clerk go ahead and take his information was the fact that even if he didn't qualify, we'd have gotten $25 off the microwave.
I don't much like what my son refers to as used car salesman tactics to try and get people to sign up for credit cards or anything else. Despite the fact that we got the microwave at a serious discount, it ended up negatively affecting his feelings about Home Depot.
We've ended up pushing the closing on the Grover Hotel out until a structural engineer can come in and examine things. The building needs to be up to code before we can move in. 
In other news, I'm casting my net about for a good used Prius, which we will buy outright. We'll be having to come to Denver once a week, and the gas mileage on the Ford Fusion will put us in the poor house if that's the car we're using. It gets 17 MPG in the city and 22 on the highway. We're going to need to do better than that.
I saw a picture of a used Tesla, which was so glorious that I swear I would have stuck my left leg in a wood chipper if doing so meant I could have that car. Sadly, at $42,000 it will never be mine. But I won't wait for a midnight confession to tell you that I love it.

~Cie~


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How to Melt Almond Bark in the Oven


Hi, Delivered Ones! I wanted to make these delicious no-bake Avalanche Cookies from Dinner at the Zoo, but my house has a broken microwave, which is making me very sad. 
I was looking for instructions to melt the almond bark on the stove since I haven't made candy on the stove in a long time, but I found an even better way which doesn't involve me standing over the stove stirring for a year. I overdid things both yesterday and today, so my fibromyalgia is bad right now, and my legs are very sore.
I just put the almond bark in my glass baking dish at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Then I can stir it together with the other ingredients.
Time and temperature edited on 15 May 2019. This oven does not go lower than 170 degrees and I found that with the product I was using, five extra minutes for melting were necessary. I find that melting the product in the oven at a low temperature leaves it warm and soft as opposed to like working with lava, as happens when melting it in the microwave.
My "Good Stuff from Grover" website is live, and you can head on over there and meet Ghost Town Grover. I'm testing out recipes for baked goods to sell from Ghost Town Grover's general store, along with handcrafted items. I felt it would be best to keep the WAH/affiliate blog separate from the handcrafted gifts and goodies blog.
I hope your microwave doesn't break, but if it does or if you just want an alternate way to melt almond bark, give the oven method a try!

Here is the recipe for the wonderful Avalanche Cookies. I subbed almond butter for the peanut butter because my son isn't keen for peanut butter. There's no accounting for taste in some people! ;-)

16 ounces white almond bark also known as white candy coating or candy melts
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups rice krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup miniature chocolate chips divided use
INSTRUCTIONS
Place 1/2 cup of the miniature chocolate chips in the freezer.
Break the almond bark into pieces and place in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 45 second increments until melted.
Remove the almond bark from the microwave and stir in the peanut butter until completely combined.
Add the rice krispies and stir to coat. Let the mixture cool until lukewarm.
Add the marshmallows and stir to coat. Add the frozen chocolate chips and stir until combined.
Place 2 tablespoon sized drops of the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, you'll need to work quickly before the cookies harden!
Cool completely until firm then serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Slow Roasted Italian)

This post was edited for content on 15 May 2019.

~Cie~




Sunday, May 12, 2019

Products I Can't Quite Wrap My Head Around: Naked Babe Wall Decal



I'm honestly not sure if anyone but Austin Powers would want this decal on their wall, but if that sort of thing really is your bag, Baby, I invite you to go for it. 



If you need further decorating inspiration, you can also pick up the Austin Powers video guides to fashionable and successful living. Get all three for just ten bucks, Baby! But hurry, because this great deal may not last long at these prices.
The sticker people have other decorative decals as well, just in case the naked babe decal really isn't your bag, Baby.

~Cie~


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Weekend Wrap-Up: A Leap of Faith that Hopefully Doesn't End in a Giant Splat

Image by Marta Cuesta from Pixabay

I have reached a crossroads in my life. Not a little itty bitty crossroads either. A big hum-dinger of a crossroads. So big, in fact, that I wrote the following poem and note about it:


cricket silence
between scraping sounds
autumn begins
for me a new beginning
or perhaps the end of all

Jane & Cie

The Hokku (Haiku) portion of the poem was written by Jane Reichhold. The Ageku, or closing stanza, was written by me.
Come the fall, I should have pictures of the old hotel my son is buying to renovate. This probably sounds a lot posher than it is. This building is in a town listed on the Colorado Ghost Towns website, and it needs a lot of work.
For me, this move is literally either a new beginning or the beginning of the end. I have run out of options.


Here is the Grover Hotel. I am going to be in touch with the Colorado Historical Society on Monday to see what needs to happen for us to receive a grant to help us with renovation. 
The Grover Hotel was built in 1900, at the point when Grover was a boom town. After it was a hotel, it was a church, a hospital, and then a boarding house. I am not entirely sure how long it has been vacant.
There are significant repairs which will need to be made, including the roof. My son and I are meeting with a plumbing contractor and an electrician on Tuesday. We are fully committed to making this building once again as beautiful as it is stalwart. It has a lot of problems, but we believe that it can once again be an asset to this tiny town.
Concurrent with my commitment to making this move 100 miles from Denver, I made the decision to quit my job. 
I have never been unemployed for long periods of time. I've worked ever since I was 16 years old. Being unemployed makes me feel like I've given up, even if logic dictates otherwise.
I had two cars: a 2011 Ford Fusion and a 1998 Subaru Forester. The Forester was bought used and ignorantly. Always take any newly purchased car to your mechanic for inspection before committing to purchase. I did not do that. The Forester has been a money pit, and it overheated on me for the last time last Friday. I am going to let the mechanic sell it for parts.
This leaves me with only the Ford Fusion.
Working as a delivery driver comes with significant risks. Fortunately, the only two accidents I've been in with the Fusion have been minor and the other driver was at fault in both cases, so their insurance covered the cost of repairs. As a reminder, never make a deal with the other driver, always go through the insurance company for repairs. 
If I had agreed to have the parents of the young lady who slid into my car when the roads were icy pay me for the initial estimate, I would have been screwed six ways to Sunday. The initial estimate quoted repairs costing less than $500. The actual cost was nearly $2000. 
In any case, I am not in a position to risk my now sole vehicle by working as a courier. I need to concentrate on preparing for the move, including getting rid of a significant amount of stuff. 
I am very nervous about this move. I have plans to sell handcrafted items. I will be revealing my blog dedicated to these items early in the week, once the inspection has come back. The inspector wants to consult with a structural engineer regarding the foundation before he gives us his final assessment.
I am really no longer able to work "normal" jobs. Once the property has been purchased, I am going to have to go to social services in the county where the property is located and talk face to face about why my 401K, which I can't access without a significant penalty until I reach retirement age, is preventing me from qualifying for SNAP. Thankfully, I get Medicaid, but I don't get SNAP. I find this ridiculous, considering that I made less than $10,000 last year.
This place really is the last stop on the line for Yours Truly. If I can't make a go of it here, I'm well and truly done. 
I have a strange and amazing imagination and a lot of fine ideas. The problem is getting people to know about me.
I am also not known for my normalcy or for being sugar and spice. I am not sweet, petite, or pretty, and I tend to speak my mind. One person referred to me as flinty. I identify as a curmudgeon. I have heard that well-behaved women rarely make history. It would be a shame if such a badly behaved woman as myself was buried by time and dust, I think.

Click to Enlarge

I'll go more in depth with this issue later, but I think that it's worth mentioning that many people can no longer afford to live in the city. This house is being purchased with money that my son's father inherited. I can tell you this: $200,000 may sound like a lot of money, but it isn't.
We could piss this money away on rents of $1200 per month (and rising) for a modest, two-bedroom townhome. I love this place, I really do, and at $1200 a month, it's cheap for the Denver metro area. But the rent rises every year and staying here has become unsustainable for two disabled people who are receiving absolutely no help from the housing authority.
We could buy a condo in the outlying areas of the Denver metro area. The only acceptable one we found would have been $240,000. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom. My son is inviting a friend to live with us. We would have felt like we were all on top of each other pretty quickly, and there would always have been a queue for the loo. Not fun!
We could purchase a mobile home for around $90,000 and piss away $700 a month on lot rent. Mobile homes do not earn equity, they depreciate like a car does. I will discuss the money pit which is the mobile home that I own and am clearing out to sell at another juncture. Everything is broken down in this place and I have never had the money to replace or repair it. There was a flood which required treatments for black mold in the aftermath. It's possible that the place will need to be condemned. I'm hoping it can be salvaged because I'd like to potentially get back a little money from it.
The Grover Hotel will cost $90,000. Admissibly, it needs a lot of work, which will come out of the remaining money. However, it has six bedrooms spread out over two floors. It has a basement. It has an attic. It has a back yard. I'm not sure who you'd have to kill to get something like that in the Denver area, but I do know you couldn't get it legally.
Housing costs are driving the working class out of the cities. This means they either have to make long commutes, or they end up unemployed and on welfare living in rural areas. 
Denver, like other major cities, likes to brag about how they've created apartments with wonderful amenities right next to the transit hubs. While this is true, the rents start at $2000 per month for a closet (small studio apartment). The working classes cannot afford to live in these places. I guess we can set up tents in the parking lots of abandoned buildings, hope that the restaurant throws out some edible food, and use the area between dumpsters for our toilet while hoping not to get bit on the ass by a rat. No, I'm not being hyperbolic. This sort of thing is actually happening every day.
My son and I will come back to Denver once a week for our woodworking class and pick up a week's worth of groceries. Denver is more than 100 miles from Grover. We may visit the Botanic Gardens once a month. We lose out on all the cultural activities that we loved, such as going to the museum. I was working, which meant something to me, but I have to stop doing that and hope for the best when it comes to creating my own products to sell.
This is the sort of thing that happens when people are punished for being part of the working class and for being disabled.
We need to stop looking down our noses at the working class. Not everyone can or wants to be a CEO. That person at the McDonald's who made your burger and fries enabled you to not have to make your own burger and fries. Why in the world anyone believes that people in the working class should be punished by being forced to live in poverty is beyond the scope of my imagination.
American society as it currently stands is not sustainable. We either need to implement changes that benefit the middle and lower classes or things are going to break down even further. This never leads to anything good.
I hope you will all visit my new website when I reveal the URL. I want to do some giveaways and think of ways that we WAH folk can help each other.

~Cie~

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dear Betty Crocker: How About Skipping the Size Shaming With your Soup and Salad Suggestions?


So, I get the Betty Crocker newsletter and I appreciate the helpful suggestions for people like me who are in a time crunch and don't have a lot of money. Recently, I discovered a cool page with tasty soup and salad pairings.
Well, it was almost a cool page. But it screwed that up from the giddyup with the size shaming bold as brass just below the initial picture.
"Fend off winter weight gain with these deliciously light soup and salad pairings."
You know what, Betty? I used to worry about that kind of shit. So, over the course of 33 years, I went on diet after diet. If there was a new diet, I tried it. I lost a lot of weight over the years. It always returned with friends. I had to stop dieting so I wouldn't get any heavier. Lo and behold, my weight stabilized. 
If I eat soup and salad, it's because I want to eat soup and salad, not because I give a flea fart in a category five hurricane about "winter weight gain."
I left this comment on the page:
I prefer my food suggestions without the side order of size shaming. It would have been easy enough to suggest soup and salad pairings without dragging terms like "winter weight gain" into it. Interestingly enough, there are links to dessert or cake-like bread recipes at the top of the page. Which, I suppose, one is supposed to have a nibble of and then throw the rest away due to the fear of "winter weight gain."
Making everything about weight and shaming larger people leads to bullying and eating disorders. That is a side dish I can do without.
It seems to me that the content writers over at the Betty Crocker website need a good dose of the Fuck It Diet. Or, as I like to call it, the last diet you'll ever need.
I only wish I had known about the Fuck It Diet back when I was a bulimic teenager. I also wish there had been big, beautiful role models like Adele, Beth Ditto and Tess Holliday back in the 1970s and 1980s. There might have been fewer vulnerable young women ending up with eating disorders if we had been able to see women of all sizes looking confident and fashionable.

~Cie~


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Tan Renga Challenge 2019: Day 7: Wisteria


In the moonlight,
The color and scent of the wisteria
Seems far away.
As far away I think as
My sense of belonging here

Buson & Cie


Notes:
The Hokku (Haiku) stanza of the poem was written by Yosa Buson (1716 - 1784). The Akegu (closing) stanza was written by me.
I have never felt that I belonged in this world. When I was younger, I always hoped I'd find people I belonged with. There have been a few where I feel like they put up with me to a degree or felt sympathy for me, but I have never had a sense of finding my "tribe." The only person I'm really at all close with is my son. I tend to form only very superficial relationships with other people.
Dinners with my mother are perilous and fraught with small talk. She has never approved of any of my choices, and she knows almost nothing about what is really transpiring in my life.
I am not at all close with the other members of my family. I would not recognize most of them if I passed them in the street.
At this point in my life, I do not wish to party and socialize. I have one friend whom I confide in via email, and that means a lot. This friend lives a few thousand miles away from me, so it isn't as if we could get together for coffee.
I have felt a degree of understanding and acceptance from the people participating in this little Tan Renga challenge, which I usually don't get a sense of during such challenges. 
I usually feel as if I am an outsider who has crashed a party when participating in blog hops, and the general sense is "what is that freak doing here at our exclusive soiree?" Some of the blog hops I participate in are very focused on clothing and fashion although other sorts of posts are allowed, and if you don't think I'm an absolute outlier when it comes to fashion, you don't know me at all. I can't afford nice clothes or even new clothes, and I look like an unmade bed most of the time.
One would think that I would feel more at home with creative blog hops, but I usually don't. I've been surprised by the feeling of peace I've gained participating in this one. Maybe it's just that no-one has attacked me yet. Hopefully, we can do without that happening this time.

Happy 29th Birthday Michael

Click to Enlarge
Haiga copyright The Real Cie

My son was born on this day 29 years ago at 8 A.M. I was unconscious at the time. He was a long baby with no meat on his bones: 19 inches long, 5 pounds 12 ounces. He lost 4 ounces of that weight after being born and scared the hell out of me. He had to be fed every two hours because his blood sugar kept plummeting.
My son is a very intelligent chap, but he doesn't do things the way our current society thinks people are "supposed" to do things. He's high-functioning autistic and battles depression and anxiety. He has a great artistic eye and loves photography and woodworking. He learns best by doing and does very poorly with attempting to learn from textbooks and lectures, which is why he ended up not doing well in college except for in his German class.
My son and I are stocky people, so with the foolish biases that modern society holds about larger people, most people think we eat a lot. We don't. We are food insecure. We ration our food and tend to only eat one or two meals a day. 
Our neuropsychological conditions and my physical issues mean that neither of us can work conventional jobs. Since modern society has Draconian ideas, disabled people are punished and not allowed adequate food or housing.
I am not being hyperbolic when I say that if it weren't for my son, I would not still be in this world. So, now you know who to blame for my continued existence.
Happy birthday, Michael, and may you have many, many more, and may each one be better than the last.

Yo Mama

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cutting out the Extras: Paid iCloud Subscription

Image by Fotownetrza from Pixabay

When I move, I will be losing my paid contractor job and become completely dependent on the work I am able to do from home as my sole source of income. This is both exciting and scary. One of the things I have to do at this point is cut out as many extras as possible.
I got a paid iCloud subscription in order to have 50 GB of storage instead of just 5. I take a lot of photos using my iPhone, and, at the time, this seemed like a helpful solution. Now I'm in the position of having to get the 5000 photos on iCloud onto my external hard drive so I can go back to the 5 GB free iCloud subscription.
I do feel that it is necessary to have a backup plan for my files. I have been a customer of iDrive since 2015 and have been satisfied with their service. Click here to check out iDrive's plans for both personal and business subscribers.
I had tried to export the photos from my iPhone to my external hard drive using a lightning cord plugged into my computer's USB hub, which didn't work because the photos aren't stored on my phone, they're stored on iCloud. You can download iCloud for your computer from the Microsoft or Apple store. Once you have it installed, it's reasonably easy to transfer the photos from iCloud to your computer.
It doesn't amount to an enormous amount of savings to roll back to the free iCloud subscription, but every little bit helps.

~Cie~



Monday, May 6, 2019

Tan Renga Challenge 2019: Day 5: Wintry Gusts and Fresh Fish


Wintry gusts:
on the sardine still lingers
the ocean's color.
How fresh and lovely they are
When not confined to a can

Gaki & Cie


Notes:
The Hokku (Haiku) stanza of this Tan Renga was written by Akutagawa Ryunosuke a.k.a. Gaki (1 March 1892 – 24 July 1927, death by overdose of Veronal.) The Ageku or closing stanza was written by me.
One of the things I treasure about this type of poetry is the way it makes a mundane item or creature such as a sardine beautiful and precious. Some people mock minimalist forms such as Haiku/Senryu or Tanka/Tan Renga, but I find that they have a meditative quality. 
My monkey mind is far too chatty and jumpy for me to meditate very well using traditional meditation methods. Either my mind wanders off track and I get bored and antsy, or if I do manage to relax, I fall asleep. 
This type of poetry allows me to meditate. I find that engaging in the Tan Renga challenge has made me calmer overall and given me an eye of the storm to escape to although my life is very chaotic. I am extremely grateful for this gift.

Inspire Me Monday #226 + Spread the Kindness #121: A Hairy Dillemma

Image by Claudio Terribile from Pixabay

Disclaimer:
Post contains affiliate links.
I am not a beautician. The information in this post describes my own experiences with hair color.

I am not the sort of person to subscribe to the idea that "you should never ask a lady about her age" or thinks that aging is shameful or youth is superior to maturity. Ask me about my age. I don't give a rip. I was 54 years old when these words were written.
People in my family tend to go gray young. My mother's hair was almost completely gray by the time she was 35. Mine was gray by the time I was 45. 


Now, if I had ended up with cool Wizard White hair, I would not be coloring my hair. I mean, just look at the glory of this man's hair. He isn't a wizard, at least as far as I know. He's a musician. But that hair is pure magic! If my hair looked that good, I'd never color it.
Unfortunately, that is not the kind of gray I ended up with.


I ended up with this kind of gray. Now, I don't give a rip about people thinking I look "old". After all, it isn't as if I'm young. I will never get Botox. I will never get a facelift. I don't even wear makeup because it causes my eczema to flare like nobody's business. I don't care if anyone thinks I'm "beautiful," a trait which has extremely narrow definitions in the modern world. 
I'm middle-aged, I'm plain, and I could care less about either of those things.
So, why would I bother dyeing my hair?
Because this particular shade of gray paired with my pasty complexion makes me look dead, and I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror and thinking that if I took on a role as a zombie in The Walking Dead, they wouldn't even have to put makeup on me. 
Commercial hair color doesn't even begin to penetrate my gray. I don't have the money necessary to go to a salon ever, let alone once a month. Henna, however, works very nicely.
Tints of Nature is a henna-based hair color made in the U.K. The red, brown and black shades work well for me. The blonde shades don't tend to cover my gray adequately.
The pros: the coverage is beautiful and the shades are vibrant. There are no toxic chemicals in Tints of Nature colors.
The cons: Henna can cause allergic reactions. Sometimes it does cause eczema to flare on my scalp, and then I end up with flakes. Not little itty bitty flakes either. Huge, chunky flakes that look like bits of torn-up tracing paper.
One of the major hair color manufacturers used to make a "color masque" for gray hair, but they stopped making it quite a few years ago. So I did some searching for alternatives and found this article about enhancing the color of gray hair. I also found this list of dyes to try.
I really wanted to see some gray hair enhancing products for older ladies instead of just products geared towards young hipsters ironically dyeing their hair gray. But as a wise man once said, you can't always get what you want.
I also found a forum which suggested rinsing with a few drops of liquid bluing diluted in water.
 I would really like to find a way to enhance my gray hair rather than having to keep dyeing my hair to avoid looking like I just crawled out of a tomb. Which, ironically, is the look that some people are trying to achieve, but, apparently, it's only cool if your hair isn't actually that color.
As a wise man once said, people are strange.

~Cie~


Also sharing with:

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Tan Renga Challenge 2019: Day 4: Ocean Sanctuary


sunday morning 
all the waves in white
kneeling on the beach
As if wanting to stop time
Pray for no more destruction

Jane & Cie


Notes:
The Hokku (Haiku stanza) of this Tan Renga was written By Jane Reichhold. The Ageku (closing stanza) was written by me.
This planet's oceans are in trouble. They have been badly polluted and overfished. Many coral reefs are sick and dying. 
A lot of work needs to be done to restore the health of the oceans. We can each do a small part by not littering the beaches or throwing waste into the waters, and, for those of us who eat fish, we can try and make sure that our fish comes from companies committed to sustainable harvesting practices.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Irazoo and Tap Research


With Cash Crate having dissolved its participant program and become strictly a reference page, Irazoo has become my favorite GPT site. They have the most enjoyable games and many surveys to choose from.
My favorite among the survey offerings are the Tap Research surveys because most of the time you earn at least a few points even if you don't qualify for the survey. I am very close to being able to cash out points for a gift card.
Unfortunately, your points do reset after a couple of months of inactivity. Fortunately, they warned me before this happened.
Irazoo has a lot to offer. If you decide to sign up, please input my code (R7RPQG) when asked who referred you. You can earn points very quickly with Irazoo.

~Cie~

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Clothing Review: Luvyle


So I bought this cute pillow cover from an online store called Luvyle.
"But Cie," I hear you saying. "That is a t-shirt!"
An astute observation, dear reader! 
It is supposed to be a t-shirt.
However, Luvyle's sizing does not match with standard sizing. Their items run reeeeeeaaaallllllly small.
I bought the shirt in my usual size (3x). 
It does not even fit over my rack of doom.
If I were a stripper or a porn star, I might be able to use this xxxtra-tight shirt to my advantage. 
However, I'm a rather modest old gal who prefers her clothes baggy.
Clothing manufacturers vary widely in the way their clothes fit. If you do order anything from Luvyle, be prepared for their clothes to run extremely small. 
If a 3X fits like a standard Large (I can't get a large over my chest), I'm not sure who a small would fit. Maybe gnomes have a fondness for clothing from Luvyle.

~Cie~

Friday, May 3, 2019

Recipe Review: Low Country Shrimp Foil Packets


Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

This delicious recipe from Betty Crocker is super-easy to make. I rated it 4 of 5 stars as I found that some modification is necessary.

 I cooked the packs in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. I will microwave the potatoes for 7 minutes next time because some of them were still a bit crunchy. 
I used a pound and a half of red potatoes instead of a pound because the packs they come in at Kroger weigh a pound and a half.
I used two corn cobettes per packet instead of cutting one corn cobette in half.
I used a tablespoon of oil instead of a teaspoon. Seriously, a teaspoon of oil doesn't even come close to cutting the mustard in this recipe. Don't be afraid to use a little more oil. It helps coat the potatoes and shrimp properly with the Old Bay seasoning.
Other than that, absolutely delicious. It will make the rounds in my house again!

1
lb small red potatoes, halved

4
pieces frozen mini corn on the cob, thawed, cut in half

2
teaspoons oil

2
teaspoons Old Bay™ seasoning

1
lb uncooked peeled deveined extra-large shrimp (16 to 20 count)

12
oz fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced

1
lemon, cut into 8 wedges

1/4
cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Steps
1
Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 (18x12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. Spray with cooking spray.

2
Place potatoes in microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Add corn to potatoes; drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning; mix until evenly coated. Place shrimp in medium bowl; toss with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and remaining 1 teaspoon seasoning; mix until evenly coated.

3
Place equal amount of sausage on center of each sheet of foil. Dividing evenly, arrange potato and corn mixture around sausage. Divide shrimp evenly over sausage. Squeeze 1 wedge of lemon over each pack.

4
Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.

5
Place packs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 6 minutes. Rotate packs 1/2 turn; cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until shrimp are pink and sausage is heated through. Remove packs from grill, cut large X across top of each pack. Carefully fold back foil; sprinkle with parsley, and top with remaining lemon wedges.

Expert Tips
Two ears of fresh sweet corn can be substituted for the frozen corn in this recipe. Cut each ear into 4 pieces.
To make in oven, place packs on cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F 23 to 25 minutes or until shrimp are pink and sausage is heated through.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Cie Sez: Popularity Does Not Equate to Writing Quality

Note: This is a direct copy of a post on my Netherworld Writers Guild Tumblr. I have provided links to all the participants.

Anonymous asked:

How to know if my story sucks? It has about 100 hits and 3 kudos and no comments. Kinda frustrating. I like the story tho. Help?!


If you like it then it doesn’t suck. Those are the rules. 

What you’re asking about isn’t about how good the story is, it’s about how popular it is. Those are two different things. Popularity comes down to the following (incomplete list)

a good, clear summary that describes the fic and lets the reader know what to expect. No typos. No grammar problems. No “I suck at summaries”

tags for the show and characters of course, but also tags for tropes that are used, genre (fluff, smut, angst, etc), episodes if it’s a post-ep, meta, timeline (if applicable) etc. Tell the people what’s in your story so that they can find it. Or avoid it if it’s not for them.

relevance to the fandom. The Silmarillion is a great work of literature, but how many Lord of the Rings fans actually read it? If you’re writing to make yourself happy, sometimes that doesn’t appeal to everyone - and that’s okay


You’re the first reader you need to please–if you like it, more will follow. :)

Try promoting it around–that always helps broadcast it to potential readers.  Doesn’t even have to be online either–was at the pet store the other day, was telling this guy I was writing original fiction, he’s kind of politely listening; tell him I do fanfiction too? YOOOO he’s suddenly interested. XD


This is the thing I struggle with the absolute most. I’m not the kind of person that other people like, and I’m rubbish at self-promotion. My brain is weird. Consequently, my writing is weird. 

Having rapid-cycling type 2 bipolar disorder, I tend to have three different approaches to the fact that my writing is not what the teeming masses want to read. Considering that the teeming masses seem to want rubbish like Twilight and its even more rubbish hellspawn, Fifty Shades of Gray, I’m rather sure I wouldn’t like any story of mine that happened to become popular.

When I’m hypomanic, I don’t give flea fart in a category five hurricane what people think of my writing. If they like it, fine. If they don’t like it, meh, whatever. I know it’s hella fucking great, or at least pretty good, or at least I liked it. That’s the only thing that matters.

When I’m euthymic, my thoughts are “if I build it and promote it, they will come. Or not. Whatever.”

When I’m depressed, my thoughts go a little bit something like this.

“I’m trash and everything I do is trash. I should stop writing and destroy everything I’ve ever written. Nobody will ever like me. I’m a thing that never should have happened. I even make my grandma sick.”

The fact of the matter is, the depressive thoughts have far less to do with the quality of my writing than they do with feeling unwanted and rejected. I was a weird kid who became a weird teenager who grew up to be a weird adult. I was badly bullied when I was younger and taken advantage of and abandoned by the kinds of soulless people who think nothing of using others and throwing them away when I became a needy adult with very low self-esteem. None of this has fuck all to do with the quality of my writing. 

One of the things writers can do is to seek out beta readers. I do offer my services as a beta reader and a reviewer, but I don’t always have time to do it. Anyone who is interested can find the information on the http://horrorharridans.blogspot.com page.

The number of comments one receives has very little to do with the quality of the work presented. Unfortunately, it often boils down to how popular the writer is. New writers tend to get few if any comments. I’ve been blogging and sharing my writing since 2006. I’ve never been popular. I was very naive when I first started and believed that the Internet would open doors to finding all kinds of friends, including other people who were Just Like Me. Instead, I learned that most people really don’t give a fuck and that nobody else is like me. 

This, however, is not an indication that your writing sucks. It’s an indication that people suck, and if you enjoy writing, you should keep doing it. 

Jimi Hendrix once said that he found that compliments distracted him from the thing that was most important: creation. 

Writers are often lonely and misunderstood people. We need to try and separate our personal need for acceptance from our reasons for writing. If we are writing in order to be accepted, we are going to fail. We need to write for the sake of the story which is asking to be told.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Insecure Writers' Support Group May 2019: Cie Plans Ahead

Image copyright Conger Design on Pixabay

As the sort of person who tends to fly by the seat of my pants, I like to instill some discipline into my program by participating in writing prompts. However, as I discovered this year when participating in Camp NaNoWriMo plus the NaPoWriMo and Poems in April prompts at the same time on my poetry blog, and the A to Z challenge over at Naughty Netherworld Press, too many prompts can feel more like a cluster flock than an inspiration.


This nightmare vision is a massive flock of starlings. I don't have a bird phobia, but I find this a bit unsettling. I don't like swarms of anything, and that includes people.
Camp NaNoWriMo is much more flexible than NaNoWriMo. I was using it as a tool to inspire me to pull together my first poetry book. I'm not sure it succeeded. 
NaPoWriMo's prompts are optional. One can participate in NaPoWriMo without ever using one of their prompts.
Poems in April's prompts are not flexible.
The A to Z blogging challenge doesn't have any hard and fast rules other than, you know, having your posts go in alphabetical order. The subject you choose is up to you. 
I used the A to Z challenge to introduce the bold and bawdy characters from Naughty Netherworld Press' Carnal Invasion series to the world. This was enjoyable but labor-intensive. I don't think it would be a bad thing to plan next year's A to Z Challenge this year and have at least a rough draft version of the posts ready to go for next year.
For the poetry project, I believe that next year I am going to go with Carpe Diem's Spring Kigo. This will work fine with NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, plus there is a feeling of continuity, and I can hone my Haiku. There are people who loathe Haiku. I am not among them.
If either the NaPoWriMo or Poems in April prompts strike my fancy, I can hammer out a bonus poem. My -666 fans will be thrilled!
I had planned to answer the Insecure Writers' Support Group question in this month's post, but I'm not going to--again. Maybe next time.

~Cie~



Spam and Scam: Spot the Tells


It's time for another Spam email from Cie's inbox. I'm sure a lot of you already know how to spot a scam email, but if you think this information might be useful to someone you know, please don't hesitate to share it with them.
Click to enlarge any of the images.

 First, always check the sender's email address. 
An email from a multi-billion dollar, U.S.-based corporation will never have an email such as excom@yagitsu.co.jp
The .jp extension lets you know that the sender is in Japan.
Most of the time, you really don't need to check anything but the address of origin. I have had scam emails ostensibly from Walmart, again a large, U.S.-based corporation, with a .ru extension. I have gotten several keto diet emails with a .de extension. 
Another big tell is the lettering in the header. Amaz0n is a big giveaway that the email is far from legit.


I have no idea who "nicolaymike700" is. I do know that if they follow the prompts, whoever the sender is will have access to any information this person fills in on the forthcoming form.


Instead of allowing the scammer to have any of your information, your next move is to block their email address. I'm using Gmail, so I go to the row of three vertical dots in the right-hand corner of the screen and choose "block sender."
Don't bother unsubscribing. It doesn't work. Block them. 


I now move the conversation to Spam, which is where any more conversations from this email address will go in the future.


Take this 30-second survey and give us your information and no good will come of it for you is more like it. 
You will not receive any money from emails like this. 
Block them every time.
Stay safe and keep your money.

~Cie~